#3. Flyers, Couturier ahead of the competition
The New Jersey Devils and the Florida Panthers were two of the best Eastern Conference teams last year, and both made lengthy playoff runs. Each team’s blueline has experienced a lot of turnover heading into this season, and defense goes a long way towards achieving results.
The Flyers too have injected a lot of youth into their defense corps, but most of these players have played together in some capacity previously. Most of their rivals don’t have that benefit, and the early results have shown so.
For Couturier, having a strong supporting cast is important because at times, this will allow him to focus on his nightly matchup by itself. If the rest of the team can take care of their jobs, it will make his that much easier.
In this regard, Selke candidates like Nico Hischier and Aleksander Barkov have their work cut out for them. Hischier, who was last year’s Selke runner-up to the retired Patrice Bergeron, is without a point in his first three games and has struggled to create any offense. Barkov finished outside the top-five in voting last year after placing third the year prior, and winning the year before that.
It’ll be interesting to see how things play out, but right now, Couturier and the Flyers are quietly in a good place to kick off the new season.